Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino

Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino 2017

Below is a presentation by Scott Williams on injury prevention that I recorded at our NorCal Chapter’s annual pilgrim blessing ceremony on March 18, 2017. Scott “Shroomer” Williams is active in the American Long Distance Hiker Association-West and has thru-hiked the Triple Crown (Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail).

Filming Scott Williams

Filming Scott Williams presentation on injury prevention tips for the Camino

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Camino Packing List Part 2: Gear and Accessories

You’ve seen my reviews of the backpack I used and the apparel I wore on my Camino Portugués in late May. This post covers the remaining items from my packing list, that is, gear, accessories, and toiletries.

My Camino Packing List, Part 2: Gear and Accessories

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My Camino Packing List, Part 1: Apparel

During my Camino planning, I heard a few wise pilgrims say, “The lighter the pack, the better your back.” I chose to pack light not only to spare my back but also to put as little strain on my knees and feet as possible. There’s a well-known rule of thumb for pilgrims according to which the weight of your backpack should not exceed ten percent of your body weight, which means that my pack shouldn’t be heavier than 14 lb (excluding water and snacks). I carefully selected and tested all gear to cull down the list of bare essentials. You can see the result of that selection along with apparel reviews below.
Camino Provides Packing List 2016
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Backpack Review After the Camino

On my first Camino, I carried an Osprey Sirrus 24 backpack, in which everything fit fine, and there was still a little room to spare. It was only at the end of my Camino that I wished it had more capacity. On my return trip to Lisbon, where I was to catch my flight home, I had to carry the souvenirs I bought in Santiago in a separate bag. Yes, I know. I’m eating my words! Read my previous review about the said backpack being large enough. For the most part, it was perfect for my one-week Camino, but it would have been nice to be able to fit those extra items in it.

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Pre-Camino Training: Multiday Walks

Prior to my Camino, I did a lot of training hikes on the weekends. I also tried to increase the distance of my daily walks to an average of five to six miles per day. But none of this could compare to the real challenge you face when on the Camino, that is, walking twelve-plus miles per day for several consecutive days.

I took the time to smell the roses!

The week before I left for Portugal, I walked to work three days in a row. It gave me a chance to test all my Camino gear and a new pair of insoles for my boots as well as to see up close places that I don’t get to see when I commute on a highway. With the help of Google Maps, I found a safe, walkable path, which turned out to be five miles long each way—only a mile longer than my car drive to work. On those three days, I walked alongside the peaceful Lake Temescal and took the time to smell the flowers.
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Camino sandals. And the winner is…Z-Trails

I finally found the right secondary shoe for my Camino – the Umara Z-Trail Ultralight Sport Sandal by XeroShoes.  Below are the reasons and my initial review.

For those packing ultra light for the Camino, two pairs of shoes are all you need. The secondary shoes you bring on the Camino are almost as important as your hiking shoes. They are what you switch to when you are done walking for the day and to let your feet breathe. They can be worn around town and for shopping runs once you get settled into the albergue or hotel.  You might wear them in the shower or for cooling off in creeks or lakes. They’ll be a welcome source of comfort.

Everyone has their own preference on what secondary Camino shoe works for them. There are a ton of options out there, so it’s best to look around and try different styles.  I’ve heard people swear by covered-toe Keens or Merrill sandals. Some rave about Crocs, and some like plain and simple flip-flops. Of course, there are many options within these types of shoes.

I looked at my existing shoes first and the options were flip-flops, Tevas, or Croc clogs.


I seriously considered and tested these on dog walks in my neighborhood. The flips wouldn’t have enough support for longer walks. The Tevas have more support but the straps are thick, which could take a while to dry out. The Crocs are light, but they rubbed on my toes, which would cause blisters if used for longer walks.

I wanted something lightweight yet with good support and rugged soles. I have high arches and wide feet. I also have unusual bones that protrude below my ankles, making it appear like I have double ankles. Lovely! Not.  Some shoes rub too much on this bone zone so I have to be careful what I wear.  I remember getting the worst blisters there when I wore ski boots.

I heard many people rave about Chacos for the arch support, so I bought a pair from REI outlet. There are many styles of Chacos, but I didn’t feel like paying $100 + on my secondary shoe.


I couldn’t believe how hard the soles were! It’s true, they have a significant raised arch, which might be good for people with high arches. I feel like I would get bruises where that arch bump is because the soles are so hard. I also don’t like the heavy clonk and snap sounds they made as I walked,  which could be annoying when I need to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

These Chacos are heavy! They weigh 16.68 ounces (473 grams), just over one pound. Every ounce counts when you’re carrying all your belongings on your back and hiking 10-12 miles a day (my plan in 2 weeks.)

I saw an ad on Facebook in March about these new Xero Z-Trail shoes.  I decided to go for it and bought a pair in the pretty red pepper color.

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Training Tuesdays: Santa Cruz Coastal Hike

I’ve been doing a lot of training hikes in the last few months to prepare for my upcoming Camino, so today begins a new series, Training Tuesdays. This is where the tread meets the trail.

But first, why all this training? Here are my reasons:

  1. To build physical endurance. I’ll be walking 10-15 miles a day to cover the last 100 +/- miles of the Camino Portugues. I walk an average of 4-5 miles on a typical weekday, so I’ve added longer hikes on weekends.
  2. To test my gear. Backpack, shoes, clothes, and iPhone Apps. By now, most of these items have been fully tested and trail approved. I’m happy with my Sirrus backpack, and reviews for everything else will be shared soon.
  3. To learn from others. Throughout this series I’ll share the helpful hints of the wise pilgrims and experienced thru-hikers I’ve had the pleasure of blazing a trail with.
  4. To explore Bay Area trails. I’ve lived here all my life and never got around to hiking Mt. Diablo or Mt. Tam, two of the highest peaks in the area.  Thanks to the Camino, I’m familiar with these parks and a few more.

Oh, how the Camino provides. I have a lot to catch up on, so here’s a hike that I organized with peregrina friend Cathy Seitchik Diaz in January.

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Backpack Review: Osprey Sirrus Women’s 24

You may have seen my recent Camino Backpack Trail Test. I have tried many packs from REI over the last few months on my quest for a Camino backpack, but finally found one that is just right!

Update, July 2016: It was just right for my short Camino, but read my Backpack Review After the Camino for my thoughts about why I am sizing up for my longer Camino next year.

The Osprey Sirrus Women’s 24 Pack


Yes, this is half the size of the REI Traverse, but I won’t need 48 liter capacity on a short (10 day) Camino in late May.  I intend to pack extremely light because the Camino provides all the heavy stuff along the way, such as shelter, a bed, food, water, and plenty of pilgrim resources should I need something.  I am refining my packing list and will include that in a “Will it fit?” test later.  For now, I want to share what I like about the Osprey Sirrusfor she’s a real beauty with a smart design.

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Camino Backpack Trail Test: REI Traverse

This is a follow up review of the REI Traverse backpack I tried during my quest for a Camino backpack. I had ordered around ten different packs from REI and have taken full advantage of their return policy. I immediately returned the packs that didn’t fit, or those that had the top entry drawstring instead of a zip panel opening. The Traverse seemed like a potential keeper, especially when I compared  it to others, but I had to test it out to be sure.  I first tried this backpack on a 4-mile walk around Lake Merritt with 18 pounds of dumbbells and pillows packed inside.  I tested it again on a 5-mile trail hike on a hot day in the Oakland hills. Below is the video:
REI Traverse Backpack Trail Test

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Camino Backpack Gear Review: REI Stoke vs. Traverse

In my quest for a Camino backpack, I recently tried nine different styles at the REI store in Berkeley, CA. In this video, I compare two styles: REI Stoke 29 and REI Traverse 48.

YouTube Video: REI Backpack Comparison: Stoke 29 vs. Traverse 48

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